Loop-mediated isothermal amplification of DNA (LAMP) is a powerful isothermal nucleic acid amplification technique that can accumulate ~109 copies from less than 10 copies of input template within an hour or two. Unfortunately, while the amplification reactions are extremely powerful, the quantitative detection of LAMP products is still analytically difficult. In this article, in order to both improve the specificity of LAMP detection and to make direct readout of LAMP amplification simpler and much more reliable, we have developed a non-enzymatic nucleic acid circuit (catalyzed hairpin assembly, CHA) that can both amplify and integrate the specific sequence signals present in LAMP amplicons. Through a hairpin acceptor, one of the four loop products amplified from the LAMP is transduced to an active catalyst ssDNA which can in turn trigger a CHA reaction. After CHA detection, even less than 10 molecules/μL model templates (M13mp18) can produce significant signal, and both non-specific template and parasitic amplicons cannot bring interference at all. More importantly, to further enhance the specificity, we have designed a dual-CHA circuit that only gave positive responses in presence of two LAMP loops. The AND-GATE detector will act as a simultaneous, specific readout of the LAMP product, rather than of competing and parasitic amplicons.
LAMP; hairpin assembly; DNA circuit; amplification
A newly selected anti-receptor (anti-EGFR) aptamer was conjugated to gold nanoparticles via a facile hybridization method and was found to specifically and quantitatively direct the delivery of gold nanoparticles to cells expressing EGFR through receptor-mediated endocytosis.
Early detection and isolation of circulating tumor cells (CTC) can enable better prognosis for cancer patients. A Hele-Shaw device with aptamer functionalized glass beads is designed, modeled, and fabricated to efficiently isolate cancer cells from a cellular mixture. The glass beads are functionalized with anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) aptamer and sit in ordered array of pits in PDMS channel. A PDMS encapsulation is then used to cover the channel and flow through cell solution. The beads capture cancer cells from flowing solution depicting high selectivity. The cell-bound glass beads are then re-suspended from the device surface followed by the release of 92% cells from glass beads using combination of soft shaking and anti-sense RNA. This approach ensures that the cells remain in native state and undisturbed during capture, isolation and elution for post-analysis. The use of highly selective anti-EGFR aptamer with the glass beads in an array and subsequent release of cells with antisense molecules provide multiple levels of binding and release opportunities that can help in defining new classes of CTC enumeration devices.
Gemcitabine is a nucleoside analog that is currently the best available single-agent chemotherapeutic drug for pancreatic cancer. However, efficacy is limited by our inability to deliver sufficient active metabolite into cancer cells without toxic effects on normal tissues. Targeted delivery of gemcitabine into cancer cells could maximize effectiveness and concurrently minimize toxic side effects by reducing uptake into normal cells. Most pancreatic cancers overexpress epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a trans-membrane receptor tyrosine kinase. We utilized a nuclease resistant RNA aptamer that binds and is internalized by EGFR on pancreatic cancer cells to deliver gemcitabine-containing polymers into EGFR-expressing cells and inhibit cell proliferation in vitro. This approach to cell type–specific therapy can be adapted to other targets and to other types of therapeutic cargo.
Imaging flow cytometry was used to analyze the self assembly of DNA-conjugated polystyrene microspheres. This technique enables quantitative analysis of the assembly process and thereby enables detailed analysis of effect of structural and process variables on the yield of assembly. In a demonstration of the potential of this technique, the influence of DNA strands base pair (bp) length was examined and it was found that 50 bp was sufficient to efficiently drive the assembly of microspheres, forming not only dimers but also chain-like structures. The effect of stoichiometry on yield was also examined. The analysis demonstrated that self assembly of 50 bp microspheres can be driven to near completion by stoichiometric excess in a manner similar to Le Chatelier’s principle in common chemical equilibrium.
Self Assembly; DNA; Flow Cytometry
We have developed a set of DNA circuits that execute during gel electrophoresis to yield immobile, fluorescent features in the gel. The parallel execution of orthogonal circuits led to the simultaneous production of different fluorescent lines at different positions in the gel. The positions of the lines could be rationally manipulated by changing the mobilities of the reactants. The ability to program at the nanoscale so as to produce patterns at the macroscale is a step towards programmable, synthetic chemical systems for generating defined spatiotemporal patterns.
reaction-diffusion; electrophoresis; chemical reaction networks; DNA circuits; strand displacement reactions
A general bacterial genome engineering framework, ‘Genome Editing via Targetrons and Recombinases' (GETR), is presented. GETR combines mobile group II introns (targetrons) and the Cre/lox system to allow genomic manipulations at a large scale.
The combination of targetrons and Cre/lox represents a broad-host range solution to genome editing.Engineered targetrons were used to deliver lox sites site-specifically into the bacterial genome.Targetrons carrying lox sites were used to generate large-scale insertions, deletions, inversions, and unique cut-and-paste operations in bacterial genomes.
Efficient bacterial genetic engineering approaches with broad-host applicability are rare. We combine two systems, mobile group II introns (‘targetrons') and Cre/lox, which function efficiently in many different organisms, into a versatile platform we call GETR (Genome Editing via Targetrons and Recombinases). The introns deliver lox sites to specific genomic loci, enabling genomic manipulations. Efficiency is enhanced by adding flexibility to the RNA hairpins formed by the lox sites. We use the system for insertions, deletions, inversions, and one-step cut-and-paste operations. We demonstrate insertion of a 12-kb polyketide synthase operon into the lacZ gene of Escherichia coli, multiple simultaneous and sequential deletions of up to 120 kb in E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, inversions of up to 1.2 Mb in E. coli and Bacillus subtilis, and one-step cut-and-pastes for translocating 120 kb of genomic sequence to a site 1.5 Mb away. We also demonstrate the simultaneous delivery of lox sites into multiple loci in the Shewanella oneidensis genome. No selectable markers need to be placed in the genome, and the efficiency of Cre-mediated manipulations typically approaches 100%.
bacterial genome engineering; Cre-lox; mobile group II introns; Staphylococcus aureus; Shewanella oneidensis
Catalyzed hairpin assembly (CHA) is a robust enzyme-free signal-amplification reaction that has a wide range of potential applications especially in biosensing. Although most studies on the analytical applications of CHA focus on the measurement of concentrations of biomolecules, we show here CHA can also be used to probe the spatial organization of biomolecules such as single-stranded DNA. The basis of such detection is the fact that a DNA structure that brings a toehold and a branch migration domain into close proximity can catalyze the CHA reaction. We quantitatively studied this phenomenon and applied it to the detection of domain reorganization that occurs during DNA self-assembly processes such as hybridization chain reaction (HCR). We also show CHA circuits can be designed to detect certain types of hybridization defects. This principle allowed us to develop a ‘signal-on’ assay that can simultaneously respond to multiple types of mutations in a DNA strand in one simple reaction, which is of great interest in genotyping and molecular diagnostics. These findings highlight the potential impacts of DNA circuitry on DNA nanotechnology and provide new tools for further development of these fields.
Spatial organization; hairpin assembly circuits; enzyme-free
This article describes the use of non-enzymatic nucleic acid circuits based on strand exchange reactions to detect target sequences on a paperfluidic platform. The DNA circuits that were implemented include a non-enzymatic amplifier and transduction to a fluorescent reporter; these yield an order of magnitude improvement in detection of an input nucleic acid signal. To further improve signal amplification and detection, we integrated the enzyme-free amplifier with loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP). By bridging the gap between the low concentrations of LAMP amplicons and the limits of fluorescence detection, the non-enzymatic amplifier allowed us to detect as few as 1,200 input templates in a paperfluidic format.
The C-terminal domain (CTD) of eukaryotic RNA polymerase II is an essential regulator for RNA polymerase II-mediated transcription. It is composed of multiple repeats of a consensus sequence Tyr1Ser2Pro3Thr4Ser5Pro6Ser7. Ser2 and Ser5 are the major phosphorylation sites in vivo while Pro3 and Pro6 can adopt either cis or trans conformations. CTD regulation of transcription is mediated both by phosphorylation of the serines and prolyl isomerization of the two prolines. Interestingly, the phosphorylation sites are typically close to prolines, thus the conformation of the adjacent proline could impact the specificity of the corresponding kinases and phosphatases.
Experimental evidence of cross-talk between these two regulatory mechanisms has been elusive. Pin1 is a highly conserved phosphorylation-specific peptidyl-prolyl isomerase (PPIase) that recognizes the phospho-Ser/Thr (pSer/Thr)-Pro motif with CTD as one of its primary substrates in vivo. In the present study, we provide structural snapshots and kinetic evidence that support the concept of cross-talk between prolyl isomerization and phosphorylation. We determined the structures of Pin1 bound with two substrate isosteres that mimic peptides containing pSer/Thr-Pro motifs in cis or trans conformations. The results unequivocally demonstrate the utility of both cis- and trans-locked alkene isosteres as close geometric mimics of peptides bound to a protein target. Building on this result, we identified a specific case in which Pin1 differentially affects the rate of dephosphorylation catalyzed by two phosphatases (Scp1 and Ssu72) that target the same serine residue in the CTD heptad repeat but that have different preferences for the isomerization state of the adjacent proline residue. These data exemplify for the first time how modulation of proline isomerization can kinetically impact signal transduction in transcription regulation.
Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) is a cell surface protein overexpressed in cancerous cells. It is known to be the most common oncongene. EGFR concentration also increases in the serum of cancer patients. The detection of small changes in the concentration of EGFR can be critical for early diagnosis, resulting in better treatment and improved survival rate of cancer patients. This article reports an RNA aptamer based approach to selectively capture EGFR protein and an electrical scheme for its detection. Pairs of gold electrodes with nanometer separation were made through confluence of focused ion beam scratching and electromigration. The aptamer was hybridized to a single stranded DNA molecule, which in turn was immobilized on SiO2 surface between the gold nanoelectrodes. The selectivity of the aptamer was demonstrated by using control chips with mutated non–selective aptamer and with no aptamer. Surface functionalization was characterized by optical detection and two orders of magnitude increase in direct current (DC) was measured when selective capture of EGFR occurred. This represents an electronic biosensor for the detection of proteins of interest for medical applications.
Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR); Focused Ion Beam (FIB) milling; electromigration; DNA; Aptamer; Break-junction
Arginases catalyze the divalent cation-dependent hydrolysis of L-arginine to urea and L-ornithine. There is significant interest in using arginase as a therapeutic anti-neogenic agent against L-arginine auxotrophic tumors and in enzyme replacement therapy for treating hyperargininemia. Both therapeutic applications require enzymes with sufficient stability under physiological conditions. To explore sequence elements that contribute to arginase stability we used SCHEMA-guided recombination to design a library of chimeric enzymes composed of sequence fragments from the two human isozymes Arginase I and II. We then developed a novel active learning algorithm that selects sequences from this library that are both highly informative and functional. Using high-throughput gene synthesis and our two-step active learning algorithm, we were able to rapidly create a small but highly informative set of seven enzymatically active chimeras that had an average variant distance of 40 mutations from the closest parent arginase. Within this set of sequences, linear regression was used to identify the sequence elements that contribute to the long-term stability of human arginase under physiological conditions. This approach revealed a striking correlation between the isoelectric point and the long-term stability of the enzyme to deactivation under physiological conditions.
Enzyme engineering; arginase; homologous recombination; SCHEMA library design; active learning; protein stability
Detection of a small number of circulating tumor cells is important, especially at the early stages of cancer. The small number of CTCs is hard to detect as very few approaches are sensitive enough to differentiate these from the pool of other cells. Improving the affinity of a selective surface-functionalized molecule is important given the sparsity of CTCs in vivo. There are a number of proteins and aptamers that provide such a high affinity but using a surface nano-texturing increases this affinity even further.
This work reports an approach to improve affinity of tumor cell capture by using novel aptamers against cell-membrane over-expressed Epidermal Growth Factor Receptors (EGFR) on a nano-textured polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) substrate. Surface immobilized aptamers are used to specifically capture tumor cells from physiological samples.
The nano-texturing of PDMS increased surface roughness at the nanoscale. This increased the effective surface area and resulted in a significantly higher degree of surface functionalization. The phenomenon resulted in increased density of immobilized EGFR specific RNA aptamer molecules and provided significantly higher efficiency to capture cancer cells from a mixture. The data showed that CTCs could be captured and enriched leading to higher yield, yet higher background.
The comparison of glass slides, plain PDMS and nano-textured PDMS functionalized with aptamers show that a two-fold approach of using aptamers on nano-textured PDMS can be an important factor for cancer cytology devices especially for the idea of lab-on-chip towards higher yield in capture efficiency.
RNA Aptamers; CTC; Human Glioblastoma; Polydimethylsiloxane; Lab-on-Chip; Nano-textured Materials; Microscopy; Basement Membrane
It has been hypothesized that components of enzymatic pathways might organize into intracellular assemblies to improve their catalytic efficiency or lead to coordinate regulation. Accordingly, de novo purine biosynthesis enzymes may form a purinosome in the absence of purines, and a punctate intracellular body has been identified as the purinosome. We investigated the mechanism by which human de novo purine biosynthetic enzymes might be organized into purinosomes, especially under differing cellular conditions. Irregardless of the activity of bodies formed by endogenous enzymes, we demonstrate that intracellular bodies formed by transiently transfected, fluorescently tagged human purine biosynthesis proteins are best explained as protein aggregation.
Analysis of a genetic module repurposed between yeast and vertebrates reveals that a common antifungal medication is also a potent vascular disrupting agent.
Studies in diverse organisms have revealed a surprising depth to the evolutionary conservation of genetic modules. For example, a systematic analysis of such conserved modules has recently shown that genes in yeast that maintain cell walls have been repurposed in vertebrates to regulate vein and artery growth. We reasoned that by analyzing this particular module, we might identify small molecules targeting the yeast pathway that also act as angiogenesis inhibitors suitable for chemotherapy. This insight led to the finding that thiabendazole, an orally available antifungal drug in clinical use for 40 years, also potently inhibits angiogenesis in animal models and in human cells. Moreover, in vivo time-lapse imaging revealed that thiabendazole reversibly disassembles newly established blood vessels, marking it as vascular disrupting agent (VDA) and thus as a potential complementary therapeutic for use in combination with current anti-angiogenic therapies. Importantly, we also show that thiabendazole slows tumor growth and decreases vascular density in preclinical fibrosarcoma xenografts. Thus, an exploration of the evolutionary repurposing of gene networks has led directly to the identification of a potential new therapeutic application for an inexpensive drug that is already approved for clinical use in humans.
Yeast cells and vertebrate blood vessels would not seem to have much in common. However, we have discovered that during the course of evolution, a group of proteins whose function in yeast is to maintain cell walls has found an alternative use in vertebrates regulating angiogenesis. This remarkable repurposing of the proteins during evolution led us to hypothesize that, despite the different functions of the proteins in humans compared to yeast, drugs that modulated the yeast pathway might also modulate angiogenesis in humans and in animal models. One compound seemed a particularly promising candidate for this sort of approach: thiabendazole (TBZ), which has been in clinical use as a systemic antifungal and deworming treatment for 40 years. Gratifyingly, our study shows that TBZ is indeed able to act as a vascular disrupting agent and an angiogenesis inhibitor. Notably, TBZ also slowed tumor growth and decreased vascular density in human tumors grafted into mice. TBZ’s historical safety data and low cost make it an outstanding candidate for translation to clinical use as a complement to current anti-angiogenic strategies for the treatment of cancer. Our work demonstrates how model organisms from distant branches of the evolutionary tree can be exploited to arrive at a promising new drug.
A microfluidic device has been constructed to carry out the automated, continuous evolution of ribozymes. A comparison with manual efforts reveals that both are capable of far flung forays into sequence space.
A novel saccharide host containing four boronic acid recognition units on a single DNA duplex terminus was constructed. This construct allowed boronic acid sugar recognition in the context of double stranded DNA to be established while highlighting the benefits of multivalency. Following the solid-phase synthesis of a bis-boronic acid tag, two end-functionalized oligonucleotides with complementary sequences were functionalized through amide ligation. By annealing the boronic acid-DNA conjugates, a tetra-boronic acid DNA duplex was assembled. The saccharide binding ability of this tetra-boronic acid host was revealed through cellulose paper chromatography in the absence and presence of various saccharides. While no appreciable saccharide binding was seen in the case of a bis-boronic DNA conjugate, the increased migration of the tetra-boronic acid host relative to the control sequences in the presence of selected monosaccharides underscored the importance of multivalent effects. We thus identified a requirement for multiple recognition sites in these conjugate systems and expect the results to facilitate future efforts toward applying synthetic recognition systems to the realm of macromolecules.
In order to automate the optimization of complex biochemical and molecular biology reactions, we developed a Sequential Injection Analysis (SIA) device and combined this with a Design of Experiment (DOE) algorithm. This combination of hardware and software automatically explores the parameter space of the reaction and provides continuous feedback for optimizing reaction conditions. As an example, we optimized the endonuclease digest of a fluorogenic substrate, and showed that the optimized reaction conditions also applied to the digest of the substrate outside of the device, and to the digest of a plasmid. The sequential technique quickly arrived at optimized reaction conditions with less reagent use than a batch process (such as a fluid handling robot exploring multiple reaction conditions in parallel) would have. The device and method should now be amenable to much more complex molecular biology reactions whose variable spaces are correspondingly larger.
Sequential injection; endonuclease; design of experiment; fluorogenic; optimization; feedback; automation
We have developed a selection scheme to generate nucleic acid sequences that recognize and directly internalize into mammalian cells without the aid of conventional delivery methods. To demonstrate the generality of the technology, two independent selections with different starting pools were performed against distinct target cells. Each selection yielded a single highly functional sequence, both of which folded into a common core structure. This internalization signal can be adapted for use as a general purpose reagent for transfection into a wide variety of cell types including primary cells.
A mix of theoretical and applied research has provided insights into how recombination can be guided to more efficiently generate proteins and even organisms with altered functions.
DNA shuffling has proven to be a powerful technique for the directed evolution of proteins. A mix of theoretical and applied research has now provided insights into how recombination can be guided to more efficiently generate proteins and even organisms with altered functions.
Summary of recent advances (abstract)
Nucleic acid-based nanotechnology has always been perceived as novel, but has begun to move from theoretical demonstrations to practical applications. In particular, the large address spaces available to nucleic acids can be exploited to encode algorithms and/or act as circuits, and thereby process molecular information. In this review we revisit several milestones in the field of nucleic acid-based computation, but also highlight how the prospects for nucleic acid computation go beyond just a large address space. Functional nucleic acid elements (aptamers, ribozymes, and deoxyribozymes) can serve as inputs and outputs to the environment, and can act as logical elements. Into the future, the chemical dynamics of nucleic acids may prove as useful as hybridization for computation.
Signal amplification is a key component of molecular detection. Enzyme-free signal amplification is especially appealing for the development of low-cost, point-of-care diagnostics. It has been previously shown that enzyme-free DNA circuits with signal-amplification capacity can be designed using a mechanism called ‘catalyzed hairpin assembly’. However, it is unclear whether the efficiency and modularity of such circuits is suitable for multiple analytical applications. We have therefore designed and characterized a simplified DNA circuit based on catalyzed hairpin assembly, and applied it to multiple different analytical formats, including fluorescent, colorimetric, and electrochemical and signaling. By optimizing the design of previous hairpin-based catalytic assemblies we found that our circuit has almost zero background and a high catalytic efficiency, with a kcat value above 1 min−1. The inherent modularity of the circuit allowed us to readily adapt our circuit to detect both RNA and small molecule analytes. Overall, these data demonstrate that catalyzed hairpin assembly is suitable for analyte detection and signal amplification in a ‘plug-and-play’ fashion.
Aptamers continue to receive interest as potential therapeutic agents for the treatment of diseases, including cancer. In order to determine whether aptamers might eventually prove to be as useful as other clinical biopolymers, such as antibodies, we selected aptamers against an important clinical target, human epidermal growth factor receptor (hEGFR). The initial selection yielded only a single clone that could bind to hEGFR, but further mutation and optimization yielded a family of tight-binding aptamers. One of the selected aptamers, E07, bound tightly to the wild-type receptor (Kd = 2.4 nM). This aptamer can compete with EGF for binding, binds to a novel epitope on EGFR, and also binds a deletion mutant, EGFRvIII, that is commonly found in breast and lung cancers, and especially in grade IV glioblastoma multiforme, a cancer which has for the most part proved unresponsive to current therapies. The aptamer binds to cells expressing EGFR, blocks receptor autophosphorylation, and prevents proliferation of tumor cells in three-dimensional matrices. In short, the aptamer is a promising candidate for further development as an anti-tumor therapeutic. In addition, Aptamer E07 is readily internalized into EGFR-expressing cells, raising the possibility that it might be used to escort other anti-tumor or contrast agents.
Infrared multiphoton dissociation (IRMPD) on a linear ion trap mass spectrometer is applied for the sequencing of small interfering RNA (siRNA). Both single-strand siRNAs and duplex siRNA were characterized by IRMPD, and the results were compared to that obtained by traditional ion trap based collision induced dissociation (CID). The single-strand siRNA anions were observed to dissociate via cleavage of the 5’ P–O bonds yielding c- and y-type product ions as well as undergo neutral base loss. Full sequence coverage of the siRNA anions was obtained by both IRMPD and CID. While the CID mass spectra were dominated by base loss ions, accounting for ~25 – 40% of the product ion current, these ions were eliminated through secondary dissociation by increasing the irradiation time in the IRMPD mass spectra to produce higher abundances of informative sequence ions. With longer irradiation times, however, internal ions corresponding to cleavage of two 5’ P–O bonds began to populate the product ion mass spectra as well as higher abundances of [a - Base] and w-type ions. IRMPD of siRNA cations predominantly produced c- and y-type ions with minimal contributions of [a - Base] and w-type ions to the product ion current; the presence of only two complementary series of product ions in the IRMPD mass spectra simplified spectral interpretation. In addition, IRMPD produced high abundances of protonated nucleobases – [G+H]+, [A+H]+, and [C+H]+ - which were not detected in the CID mass spectra due to the low-mass cut-off associated with conventional CID in ion traps. CID and IRMPD using short irradiation times of duplex siRNA resulted in strand separation, similar to the dissociation trends observed for duplex DNA. With longer irradiation times, however, the individual single-strands underwent secondary dissociation to yield informative sequence ions not obtained by CID.
We present a robust, sensitive, fluorescent or radio label-free self-assembled optical diffraction biosensor that utilizes rolling circle amplification (RCA) and magnetic microbeads as a signal enhancement method. An aptamer-based sandwich assay was performed on microcontact-printed streptavidin arranged in 15-μm-wide alternating lines, and could specifically capture and detect platelet-derived growth factor B-chain (PDGF-BB). An aptamer served as a template for the ligation of a padlock probe and the circularized probe could in turn be used as a template for RCA. The concatameric RCA product hybridized to biotinylated oligonuclotides which then captured streptavidin-labeled magnetic beads. In consequence, the signal from the captured PDGF-BB was amplified via the concatameric RCA product, and the diffraction gratings on the printed areas produced varying intensities of diffraction modes. The detected diffraction intensity and the density of the microbeads on the surface varied as a function of PDGF-BB concentration. Our results demonstrate a robust biosensing platform that is easy to construct and use, and devoid of fluorescence microscopy. The self-assembled bead patterns allow both a visual analysis of the molecular binding events under an ordinary bright-field microscope and serve as a diffraction grating biosensor.